VfL Wolfsburg – MATCH REPORT VS Bayer Leverkusen 19/09/20

This fixture on opening weekend was a 0-0 stalemate. Wolfsburg set up in a 4-5-1 with Weghorst leading the attack, Brekalo and Victor provided the width and Rousillon and Steffen pushed up from full backs when needed. They defending well in a mid-block and pressed the ball in the midfield well. They mainly played on the counter and created a few chances but weren’t clinical enough on the day but according to expected goals they did enough to win the game. Leverkusen set up in a 4-3-3 with attacking 8s in Wirtz and Demirbay. They played with a very high line which Wolfsburg failed9 to exploit. Leverkusen dominated possession but the departures of Kevin Volland and Kai Havertz have left Peter Bosz’s attack looking a bit flat and lacking a final ball and will need to improve if they want to be pushing for a Champions League spot.

Ratings:

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, re-watch
  • D – Below average in this match

Maxence Lacroix

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 20
  • Date of birth: 06/04/2000
  • Current club: VfL Wolfsburg
  • Career: FC Sochaux, VfL Wolfsburg
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

In Lacroix’s Bundesliga debut after joining in the summer, the young defender put in an excellent, very mature display. He stands 6’3 with a strong, lean build but showed during the game that along with his great physicality, he has good speed and athleticism. He read the game very well, he was an active defender who liked to press out of the line but was at times dragged out of the line too easily or his pressing left his centre back partner marking two men so he should learn to be more disciplined and make better decisions instead of pressing out every time. When he did come out of the line he normally did very well however, stopping players receiving and making interceptions, showing good physicality. One time he pressed out and was played past with a 1-2 but he made an excellent recovery to get back and slide in before Wirtz could take a shot.

He also covered behind the line well and read play to press into wide areas to help full backs and clear long balls, which is where he showed his good pace over medium distances. He was extremely calm and composed with all his actions, he head-checked before controlling loose balls and took his time with his clearances which were good quality. He did well in the air in his box and decently in midfield too, but misjudged one or two. He was an active marker as well and showed good awareness and concentration.

On the ball he was comfortable and played good forward passes into midfield and was also able to use both feet fairly well. He hit a few longer passes with nice clipped technique but the pass wasn’t always on. Overall a really strong debut for the young Frenchman with a very mature performance after coming from Ligue 2.

Rating – A2

Xaver Schlager

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Austrian
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 28/09/1997
  • Current club: VfL Wolfsburg
  • Career: RB Salzburg, VfL Wolfsburg
  • Position: Centre Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left

Schlager had a strong game in Wolfsburg’s midfield. He’s 5’9″ with a stocky build, he pressed really well in midfield and showed a great engine as well as good aggression and intensity. He applies pressure and is intelligent with his physicality, leaning on the opposition enough and being physical without giving away fouls. The Austrian showed great strength when shoulder-to-shoulder. He has good positioning and scans well in midfield and is very active with his positioning, always adjusting and looking to cut lanes and just always seemed to be in the right place at the right time for loose balls. He had good tackling technique with well timed challenges but didn’t overcommit.

In possession he grew into the game. He wasn’t the most progressive and his role in the team is mainly as a ball winner. He picks up the ball a lot from winning possession himself or picking up loose balls, then he looks to quickly shift the ball to a teammate in space who can then spring or lead the counter attack. He received the ball well and took good touches away from pressure and showed good control but didn’t try to carry and he tried one switch of play which was poor. He kept his play simple but was quick in his decision making and as an effective ball winner he then sets up attacking teammates who can counter.

Overall this was one of the stronger performances I’ve seen of him. He was really effective out of possession and was smoother in possession, he didn’t overplay it and was very physical but didn’t support the attack particularly well but that wasn’t his role.

Rating – A2

Josip Brekalo

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Croatian
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 23/06/1998
  • Current club: VfL Wolfsburg
  • Career: Dinamo Zagreb, VfL Wolfsburg, VfB Stuttgart (L)
  • Position: Left Wing
  • Secondary position: Attacking Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Brekalo played on the left wing for most of the game, and also played on the right for part of the second half. Brekalo showed good overall technicality, receiving the ball well and with some good passing into forwards in the opposition third but failed to create much in the final third. He didn’t look confident in wide areas in 1v1s and was happy to take the corner as he tended to beat his man with pace rather than skill so in static 1v1s struggled.

On the counter he carried the ball down with tight control at good speed with good bursts of pace but ultimately wasn’t effective. He was agile with good changes of speed but with a very slim build he lacked strength. His positioning and movement wasn’t great, often not accessible and didn’t offer enough support for carriers. Out of possession he wasn’t great either and as soon as the ball passed him his concentration and work rate dropped and he was bypassed fairly easily.

He showed good control and athleticism but overall he failed to impact the game and his movement on the counter wasn’t good enough to be effective and then wasn’t clinical enough when he had chances.

Rating – D

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